In the early 90’s I served as general counsel for my brother, Bobby, who was growing the Banana Boat Company into one of the top sun care companies in the world.

The original owners were basically running the company out of a garage. They sold it to my brother for a small amount of money. I helped Bobby incorporate the company, served as his legal counsel, and helped him connect with an accountant.

When we were in high school, our father started to make a fortune in real estate by working for companies that sold land in central Florida to people from out of state, primarily in a community known as Lehigh Acres. Dad’s job often involved meeting and greeting potential customers in the lobbies of Miami Beach hotels; because of his various hotel contacts, Dad knew many of the hotel owners and was able to get Bobby and me jobs as lifeguards during the summers when we were in our teens.

Bobby often heard people complaining about greasy suntan lotion while life guarding, so he started mixing different ingredients—everything from coconut and fruit to baby oil and iodine—to see if he could create a more effective tanning formula. Although he had no formal education in chemistry, Bobby was creative and risk tolerant, and he possessed the instinctive gift to sell. Imagine this young, eccentric guy, experimenting with all kinds of ingredients like a mad scientist: that was my brother.

Up until the mid-eighties, sun care products were developed to help people tan, but by the time Bobby bought Banana Boat, there was evidence linking sun exposure to skin cancer.

This prompted him to research and develop high-SPF sun blocks. Bobby remembered the western TV shows we’d both loved as kids, and how gunshot wounds were often treated with aloe plants. He decided to research skin care products using aloe to help heal sun-damaged skin.

When Banana Boat brought Aloe After Sun Gel to the market, Bobby saw his company boom as the gel became the best-selling skin care product. With him as CEO, Banana Boat grew to become the second-largest sun care brand in the world.

Most personal care products with synthetic fragrances contain toxic chemicals, so remember that when purchasing sunscreen. It is possible to find a sunscreen that isn’t toxic. Several Banana Boat products, while not perfect, are rated at 3 by the EWG (1 is the best and 10 is the worst).

Learn how to find the best non-toxic sunscreen.
Most sunscreens are chemical-based and those should never be used. Buy sunscreens containing zinc oxide as their active ingredient.

Read labels and avoid products that include the following:

  1.       Words ending in “paraben”
  2.      DMDM hydantonin
  3.       Imidsazolidinyl urea
  4.      Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  5.       Triclosan
  6.       Triclocarban
  7.      Triethanolamine (TEA)

Use the EWG for quick reference. Reference their tips to wear clothes to avoid UV rays, find shade, and plan around the sun. 

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